Strong widebody market lifts Rolls-Royce

ENGINES Rolls-Royce's civil aerospace business turned in a 4% increase in underlying first-half profit to £272 million ($543 million) as increased deliveries of Airbus A320 engines and aftermarket sales boosted sales 5% to £2.1 billion. In defence aerospace, sales dropped 5% to £769 million and profits dipped slightly to £104 million, although demand was strong in the USA, which accounts for 45% of segment sales. R-R says civil aviation will "not be immune" to the effects of high oil prices, constraints on financing and the economic downturn, but it predicts full-year profitable growth on the back of a "resilient" widebody and corporate market, adding that the "relative youth and fuel efficiency" of the aircraft to which its engines are fitted means they are "less likely" to be grounded than older types.


LAYOFFS Structural Monitoring Systems is letting go of its workforce after failing to secure funding to continue commercialisation of its Comparative Vacuum Monitoring structural integrity system. The Perth, Western Australia-based company had been making inroads into the aerospace market with its crack detection technology but has been hit by the current state of financial markets and the Australian government's decision to scrap the Commercial Ready grant programme. The company is in talks with potential investors.


INDUSTRY An Anglo-French tie-up between the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium and the Toulouse-based Aerospace Valley innovation cluster hopes to boost their regions' supply chain, technology and skills development. FAC chairman Sir Donald Spiers and Aerospace Valley president Jean-Marc Thomas have agreed to form a joint steering board guide and implement collaborative programmes to improve industrial and academic competitiveness.


RESULTS General Dynamics' aerospace business ramped up second quarter operating profit by a fifth to $240 million on sales up 10% to nearly $1.34 billion year-on-year, the maker of Gulfstream business jets saw its backlog rise 86% to $18.8 billion. Chief executive Nicholas Chabraja says: "Growth in the aerospace backlog is a reflection of continued demand for the entire existing product line and extremely strong demand for the new Gulfstream G650." The company delivered 76 aircraft in the first half, up from 66 last time.

HAMILTON SUNDSTRAND SELLS ACTUATORS UNIT ACQUISITION London-based private equity investor Stirling Square Capital Partners has bought Italian flight actuation systems maker Microtecnica from Hamilton Sundstrand for an undisclosed sum. Microtecnica employs 686 people at three sites in northern Italy and had 2007 sales of €124 million ($195 million) customers include Hamilton Sundstrand, AgustaWestland, Airbus, Alenia, Avio and Bombardier. Chief executive Alan Bean will remain in place.


PRIVATISATION Following its acquisition of trainer manufacturer Avioane Craiova, Aero Vodochody is participating in another Romanian privatisation. The Czech company has bid for a controlling stake in helicopter manufacturer IAR Ghimbav, ahead of a bid deadline of 15 September. It is also seeking a stake in helicopter manufacturer PZL-Swidnik, in which the Polish state owns a controlling interest and AgustaWestland a stake of 6%.

Source: Flight International